Apples make comeback after devastating 2012 crop
Bare trees were an all too common sight for Michigan apple growers last fall.
But this year, experts said the crop is coming back in full force.
A heat wave in March 2012 coupled with an April 2012 frost decimated the apple crop throughout the state last year, with apple farmers losing between 70-100 percent of the average haul, depending on the area.
This year, the weather was more conducive with healthy apple growth.
Temperatures stayed cool through March and into April, preventing spring frosts from destroying flowering apple buds early on.
East Lansing resident Sri Simmons picks apples with the Greater Lansing Food Bank, Sept. 19, 2013, at the apple orchard owned by the Department of Plant Pathology across from the Horticulture Teaching and Research Center, 3291 College, in Holt, Mich. The food bank volunteers, part of the "gleaners" group, filled up crates of apples to deliver to those in need. Danyelle Morrow/The State News
Bill Chase, the manager of the Horticulture Teaching and Research Center, said the trees are set heavily with apples and could lead to a larger crop than normal for Michigan farmers.
Michigan Apple Committee Executive Director Diane Smith said an average year yields between 20-25 million bushels of apples.
Although the harvest season has just begun, she said an above-average figure is not impossible for her to imagine.
“Can we get above 30 million bushels?” Smith said. “I don’t know, but when I look on the trees, I see a lot of apples.”
This is music to the ears of Bob Tritten, MSU Extension fruit educator for the Genesee County district, who described last year’s apple crop as “really rough.”
“We’re only about 20 percent through the harvest,” he said. “But people have been craving Michigan apples.”
Tritten said a down year generally allows for more flower buds to sprout the next.
In an industry that generally brings anywhere between $700-900 million annually into the Michigan economy, an abundant apple season is a welcome change, he said.
However, Tritten noted this could have a reverse effect for next season’s crop.
“The crop for 2014 looks smaller than this year, and the crop for 2015 looks larger,” he said. “After that, we expect the trend to even out.”